Archive for the 'Dressage' Category

Why, Miss Lily, You have a License!

amywink August 5th, 2012

“And now, there she is, a full-grown lady. Wearin’ the greatest honor man can bestow. The badge of faith and respectability. ”

Lily got her Rabies vaccine (and tag) this week and I couldn’t help thinking of Lady and The Tramp when Lady gets her collar and license. Of course, Lily is not a Cocker Spaniel, but there is a resemblance. It is, of course, also a great relief to have her fully vaccinated and we can now commence with Puppy Kindergarten! I visited a prospective class this week and I think Lily will benefit greatly, though she does already knows some important commands already….no need to skip a grade and get into trouble! We’ll begin this week and see how it goes. I think she might also enjoy Rally/Agility and so when she gets to be 6 months old, we’ll try a class in that. Sometime in October!

She is learning quite a lot and took her first neighborhood walk this week. With that experience, comes training to exit the house. She didn’t take very long at all to figure out we weren’t going out the door unless she sat down and waited until I said “Okay.” She has some issues with leash-walking so we’ll focus on that for a while as well. But she is doing extremely well with our weekly trips to the barn–a very very important skill to learn. This week she stayed in the dog pen again and got completely filthy racing around in the dirt.

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But she cleaned up well after she dried off. whew.

Instead of riding along the carriage this week, we watched from the shade, observing both a nice carriage lesson and Malen exercising her beautiful mare, Lista.

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All of the time at the barn is working to make her comfortable with horses and dogs and other odd experiences that go along with a “barn lifestyle”. It’s a lot for a puppy to take in but she is doing extremely well. I was very pleased with her ability to be still and wait quietly while we watched the horses work.

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She only had one bobble when Malen rode Lista toward us and Lily decided that was quite alarming and she had to bark like a big dog. Lista just thought she was amusing.

Though I’m spending lots of time writing here about Lily’s adventures, I am now driving Blessing regularly and we are working well together. This week, we worked on our half-circles so we’d eventually be able to work on circles, which we both had issues with last week. I remembered to put my GPS on this week–last week, I took it but left it in the car…the week before, I left it at home. And this is what our work looked liked this week.
picture-2.jpg Fairly decent. Blessing is very finely tuned and we are working to get together on my cues and her work but I see steady improvements with her and myself.

One Month

amywink July 14th, 2012

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This Saturday is the one month anniversary of Lily’s arrival in my life and she has really changed it. She’s quite the character, full of happiness and humor. She’s learning very swiftly and this week, we had great success with “come” and “down”. The key seems to be organic turkey hotdogs. Now she checks back *just* to see if I wanted her to come back…you know, just in case…just to be attentive…..in case there’s a bit of hotdog to be had. She has a very enthusiastic “down”, dramatically flopping her front legs down on command. Adorable.

I found myself reading Gun Dog magazine online this week for the excellent articles on training spaniels. They also have very good information about Welsh Springers. Since I am working on her retrieve, the articles were very helpful. While I don’t really plan to have a “gun dog” per say, the articles were very helpful in their approach.

I’ve also been glad of my little “It’s Me or The Dog” addiction because I’ve learned quite a lot about getting what I want out of Lily without any arguments. I’m beginning to wonder if Puppy Kindergarten might be pointless by the time we get there. We’ll see. I’ve been cautioned against going too soon to avoid exposure to diseases. I’m fine with that because a sick puppy is just not an experience I need right now! Instead, we are working at home in the yard and inside and getting quite a few things accomplished. And having a good time doing it. She weighed in a 17 lbs this week at the vet’s, where she is very very very popular and where she works her wiggly magic on everyone.

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This week, I did have a driving lesson with Blessing and my coach this time was Francine. She’s whipping me back into shape again and getting me ready for driving Blessing on my own. I got to harness her this week and start out with her. We did pretty well and eventually got our straight lines really well. I could tell because the dew revealed my delightfully wavy tracks as we went around the arena. She seems very mature all of a sudden, though she is approaching her 5th birthday (October) and she has been in training a long time. I’m extremely pleased with her and continue to enjoy developing our relationship. I’m going to take a break from the riding lessons for a while to refocus on my driving. It’s a good time since the heat is getting bad and getting a drive in seems more important than getting a ride in at this point.

I am working to create some kind of reasonable schedule for everything but July seems to be a month that just is not going to let that happen. I will have to just let things work out and hope some reasonable pattern emerges.

Wow Oh Wow: Part 1

amywink April 30th, 2012

What a fantastic weekend I have had.

First of all, after dragging myself out of bed and getting a very very slow start on Saturday morning (school finishes next week….I hope I make it), I headed down for my 12th riding lesson. Really, I was so tired that if Malen had said “no riding today.” I’d have said “Great!” but in the way of things, that was not to be and I am so glad! As hard as it is to believe that exercise is a cure for exhaustion, time and again, I find this to be true and Saturday was no exception. Once I was mounted, I did find a supply of energy for the day’s lesson and boy, what a great lesson it was.

Since Steven sent me a link about bicyclists using their GPS to create “drawings”, I made sure my GPS was strapped to my leg. Since we have no street maps, I prefer to think of our “work” as abstract instead of realistic, as you can see from this rendering of the entire riding lesson:

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And yet there is a sense of design once we move toward the dressage fieldpicture-4.jpg Something reminiscent of Van Gogh’s swirling paint strokes perhaps? Perhaps not.

There are elements of our design which I was very very proud, however, as proud as I was of my ridden circle (and also done at a posting trot!). Here is our small serpentine, ridden in the middle of the 20 meter cone markers, so like a weaving….or perhaps a knitting (Steven?)

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Then the broader serpentine which involved straight lines and quarter turns

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And on to the Figure 8, which I bobbled a bit on at the intersection circles:

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Of course we also worked on the straight line here, which I was very proud of–straight lines being difficult to execute.

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But here is my favorite part. This drawing represents yet another major accomplishment in my Riding Recovery.

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Just like my first ride back to the barn alone, this is the map of my first “trail” ride off the dressage field. It might look pretty simple but this involved going up and down slopes and riding along the edge of two separate stock tanks–one side water (no big deal) the other…..drop off (giant big hairy scary deal). And yet, it turned out to be also No Big Deal. Mission Accomplished.

All of that would have been enough to call the day a great one but it was only the Tip of the Iceberg!!…..to be continued….

Blithe Spirit

amywink April 22nd, 2012

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My Blithe Spirit rose burst into exuberant bloom this week, just a month after planting the bare root that arrived from David Austin. I’ve counted 16 buds on the plant, though it’s less than a foot tall as of yet! So far, it’s a perfect representative of my little Tristan and the bloom timing is a nice sign about the coming puppy. I am pouring over the photos of the litter, deciphering the markings to see who is who. I am likely driving the breeders nuts with my curiosity but I am enjoying the puppies so much. The red patches will darken as the puppies grow and apparently the freckles appear later, like a dalmatian’s spots. While there is no telling the personalities now and I know I need to wait for the selection and evaluation process, I find myself drawn to a particular pup who I will keep in my sights as the entire litter grows. It’s perfectly silly to attach anything to one at this point….and yet . . .

But out of this pile of spots, I will certainly find the one that’s perfect, even though it will clearly be an arduous chore. hahahaha.

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It’s not just Puppy Week though, I had a great riding lesson on Saturday and look, I can ride a circle!! I can ride a circle!!!

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That was, however, after a long extended argument with Dol, who had decided she could totally ignore my leg and hands and cut her corners short and counterbend in the process. It was not pretty. So, we worked on that A LOT and I was pretty well worn out by the end of the lesson but we had come to a begrudging d├ętente in which she conceded to my demands and I rewarded her concessions with a cookie, as I wobbled around on noodle-y legs!! I felt like I’d been in weight training for the hour!

And I was really ready for a carriage ride-along! Blessing did very well and seems quite fine in windy weather–several weekends in a row now have been blustery and she remains unbothered, though her beautiful mane is mussed!

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Rainy Sunday

amywink April 15th, 2012

While the cold front passes, I’m waiting for the rains to move off to the east, while hoping they do not spawn “life-threatening weather” we’ve been warned about. If the weather passes, I’ll see Will this afternoon, if not, well, here I sit at the computer looking over photos from yesterday’s Good Day and resting from a strenuous and invigorating riding lesson.

When I wrote down “exercise” on my yearly goals, I was not at all thinking of riding. I was thinking of walking. But riding has turned out to be a very good whole body workout. I can feel my back getting stronger and my core as well. It might not be as invigorating if I was riding Western, but riding dressage certainly demands a lot of work from the entire body. My posture certainly is a great deal better as well–you can’t do the computer slump while riding!

Yesterday my 10th lesson of the year and I added another “bravery” notch to my belt yesterday when I rode Dol back to the barn Alone to fetch a whip from the arena and nothing continued to happen. She did what I said and I didn’t have a crisis of confidence or anything. We rejoined the party at A and jauntily went on the diagonal to M. I’d needed the whip because she’d decided to make me wooooooooooork to get her moving when we started. Pushing a 1500+ pound animal around with your knees and thighs is tough and she’d decided she totally didn’t feel like it. So, off we went to fetch a reminder and I returned to the dressage field with a lovely Andalusian mare, not the antique plow horse I’d originally rode in on. The idea of the whip is all she needs and she gets herself in order. I had a great lesson, riding at a trot most of the time and really getting a great workout. Next time, I’ll strap on my GPS and check out my ridden circles. I think they were definitely easier to do riding but I might not have had such an easy time if I didn’t already know how to do them while driving!

It was an extremely windy day too so we weren’t sure if Blessing would be up to showing off. Just one month hitched is pretty green and the wind always brings dangerous smells and weird sounds. But her steady nature prevailed and she did marvelously well, far better than expected of her. She’s learning to relax into her work and doing very well at it.

Here she is modeling her new driving bridle. She’s also graduated to a french link snaffle from her pacifier bit that stopped her from bunching her tongue up under it.

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I think she looks quite smart with her decorative browband, like a grown up girl. She also acted like a grown-up girl and stood quietly while we waited to hitch. Standing quietly is so important for a driving horse and she’s been a bit of a wiggle worm before now. It’s youth though and I can see the mature mare she’s becoming.

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This time, I got to ride along the entire time and she did wonderfully well–two passengers, the driver and two dogs were on board and while she clearly thought that was sort of a lot, she didn’t at all refuse to work.

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She’s settling in nicely and leaning to bend in her corners and keeping her pace regular. Malen says she likes to go so she won’t need any encouragement for speed. Francine warned me last week that “she’s a mare” and I’d never be able to just make her do stuff, I would have to get her to think it’s her own idea. That should be interesting and I’m looking forward to driving her.

While she works hard to catch up, her brother continues to enjoy his spring pasture and his time off.

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Hes’ quite pretty though, in his dark red dapples and flaxen trimmed mane. I keep dreaming of how fabulous they will look together one day!

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